Emigration Can Lead to More Votes for Right-Wing Parties in Poland

| Press release

Emigration from Poland can have a strong impact on elections, according to a new study in the journal EconPol Forum. Higher emigration causes a significant increase in right-wing votes: a 1 percent increase in the number of emigrants increases the share of right-wing votes by 0.25 percent. The opposite is true for the left-wing parties: a 1 percent increase in the number of emigrants causes a 0.57 percent decline in left-wing parties’ share of the vote. “This matters for the parliamentary election in Poland on October 15, since voting by mail from abroad has been abolished by the government,” says ifo migration researcher Yvonne Giesing.

This is important because 12.5 percent of the Polish population lives abroad. Many of them still have Polish citizenship and thus the right to vote. “Emigration from Poland has changed the structure of the electorate, which affects election results. The study’s key conclusion is that high emigration rates have led to an increase in votes for right-wing parties, as left-leaning votes have been missing,” Giesing says.

The study is based on data from Statistics Poland. Containing information on permanent immigrants and emigrants, the dataset covers the period from 1997 to 2019 and is consistent with available election data. Preferences and attitudes come from the Life in Transition Survey (LiTS), a survey of the population’s political attitudes conducted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. These combined datasets provide comprehensive information on emigrants, voting behavior, preferences, and demographic characteristics.

Questions can be directed to: Dr. Yvonne Giesing, +49 89 9224 1219, Giesing@ifo.de